A key measure of US consumer confidence snapped back in March to 82.3, the highest level in five months, according to figures from the private Conference Board.The index has dropped since the 16-day federal government shutdown in October, to a seven-month low of 72 before rising to 79.4 in January and 78.3 in February.
Confidence levels were much worse a little over a year ago, when the index - which is set to a 1985 benchmark of 100 - stood at 58.6.Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators at the board, said the figures show that "consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead."But she added that while consumers are more upbeat about future job prospects and the overall economy, "they were less optimistic about income growth."One of the worrisome trends of the US economic recovery is that most people in the middle range of income are earning little more than they did a decade or more ago. In addition, much of the new job creation is for lower paying jobs.